Sleep Cheap: 10 Best Santa Barbara Budget Hotels

Santa Barbara is a popular tourist destination for many reasons: palm trees, scenic vistas, white sand beaches, celebrity residents and gourmet meals top the list. One thing it is certainly not famous for, however, is low prices. Budgeting for a trip to Santa Barbara might set your head spinning. From airfare and rental transportation to museum fees and dining expenses, there are plenty of reasons to save your pennies.

Hotel accommodations are probably one of your top priorities, and rightfully so. Hotels, motels and inns fill up quickly, especially during the summer months, and run the gamut when it comes to price. You can spend as much or (almost) as little money as you want when booking a room in Santa Barbara. This list of budget hotels is intended for those of you hoping to do the latter. Spend a little less on the room, and you’ll have a little more for the fun stuff!

Affordable rooms can be found all over town with a little hunting. Want to fall asleep to the sound of ocean waves? Reserve a spot at Motel 6 Beach Santa Barbara. This is actually the very first Motel 6, established in 1962, and it is just steps away from the sand. Planning a trip to Solvang? Try staying at the Holiday Inn Express and enjoy complimentary cinnamon rolls in the morning.

Consult this rest of this list for other great finds in different parts of town. You - and your budget - will be happy you did!


At the Best Western Plus Pepper Tree Inn you're sure to find that little something extra. Enjoy modern amenities and thoughtful design at this hotel near the San Roque neighborhood of Santa Barbara. For the business traveler, a spacious work desk and free internet access are included in all guest rooms to ensure you don't miss a beat while you're away from the office. For extended stays, each room has a convenient in-room mini fridge. There is also an in-house fitness room, so you can keep up your workout routine while you're on the road. Better still, there are two heated pools and a restaurant and bar onsite. The Pepper Tree is convenient to Goleta, downtown and the freeway.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: If you dream of a family-friendly beach hotel that won't break the bank, you should book a stay here immediately.

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Searching for an affordable, ocean view room for the weekend? How about a Spanish-style vacation cottage - complete with full kitchen - for the week? Cabrillo Inn at the Beach has both, making it a great overnight choice no matter what the nature of your visit to Santa Barbara. Its convenient East Beach location is close the the Santa Barbara Zoo, Chase Palm Park and, of course, the lengthy stretch of white sand heaven known as East Beach. Stearns Wharf, the Santa Barbara Harbor and downtown State Street are just a mile or so away. The affordable rates at Cabrillo Inn include a daily continental breakfast. Special dinner packages featuring local restaurants are frequently available.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: Rental cottages make this a great choice for a family trip to the sea.

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Visit Solvang for a taste of Danish culture, and you may find yourself wanting to stay the night! Save your pennies for the great area restaurants and wineries, and book your stay at the Holiday Inn Express Solvang. This convenient hotel is within walking distance of many of the biggest and best attractions, including the Hans Christian Anderson Museum and several windmills. Amenities at the hotel cater toward both business travelers and family expeditions. Holiday Inn Express boasts a business center, outdoor pool, and laundry facilities onsite. Complimentary hot breakfast is served daily. A large rental meeting room for business needs is also available.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: This budget hotel is in beautiful Solvang and only minutes away from some of the best wineries in the region.

Read more about Holiday Inn Express Solvang - Santa Ynez Valley →


Stay at the Lemon Tree Inn when you want to be close to the action of downtown Santa Barbara, but not quite in the middle of it (a peaceful night of sleep is important for weary travelers, after all). Located on upper State Street, The Lemon Tree Inn is just two blocks away from Oak Park, home to Santa Barbara's popular cultural festivals, like the Greek Festival and the French Festival. This budget hotel offers a variety of room configurations, a pool, a bar, a restaurant and free wireless internet. Family units are also available. Several other restaurants are nearby. Free parking for guests.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: The Lemon Tree Inn has a fun pool and bar and is located just a short cab ride from downtown.

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The family-friendly Ala Mar Motel allows you to book beachfront accommodations at reasonable rates, starting at just under $100 during the low season. It is located one short block from Stearns Wharf and a quick trolley ride - or brisk walk - from downtown Santa Barbara. All rooms include TVs with premium channels, Wi-Fi and a continental breakfast for each guest. Additional amenities include a sun deck that overlooks the coastline and a business center for working professionals. At the Ala Mar Motel pets are welcome, too, so you can visit the beach without having to leave Fido behind at home.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: If you are looking for the impossible - an affordable beachfront hotel in Santa Barbara - you just found it.

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Autocamp is an affordable boutique hotel with a twist... instead of rooms, guests rent vintage Airstream trailers! These shiny aluminum digs feature clean, completely refurbished interiors and relaxing outdoor patios. Choose from five trailers that each sleep two or more and include full kitchens with everything you need to make hot coffee or tea in the morning. One even has a clawfoot tub! Free use of beach cruiser bicycles (and helmets) comes with every reservation. Located at the perfect midpoint between uptown and downtown Santa Barbara, Autocamp is within easy walking and riding distance of many area attractions, shops and restaurants.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: For a truly unique experience, enjoy a few nights of glamping in this boutique Airstream hotel. There's nothing else quite like it!

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This hotel a is true find for any traveler with champagne taste but a potato chip budget. Located just blocks away from downtown Santa Barbara and in the heart of the the Funk Zone - Santa Barbara's art and wine district - Hotel Indigo offers modern accommodations for aesthetically-minded visitors. Smaller, European-style rooms are decorated with works by local artists. Most rooms have quiet, unfussy patios. A lounge area with art library invites guests to lounge in a communal space. Many great restaurants and wine tasting rooms are within walking distance. There is also a restaurant onsite. The beach and Stearns Wharf are only two blocks away.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: The super chic Hotel Indigo has stylish smaller rooms, a tasty onsite restaurant and is in easy walking distance of more than a dozen wineries.

Read more about Riviera Beach House →

Enjoy an affordable stay at this hip and happening hotel and hostel in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone. The Wayfarer offers 27 hotel rooms and four shared rooms. Choose a private room to plan a romantic weekend near the heart of Santa Barbara's Urban Wine Trail or opt to stay in one of their massively affordable, dorm-style hostel rooms and make some new friends. One block from State Street, The Wayfarer also offers easy access to some of the best shopping and dining in the city. Every guest can take advantage of daily complimentary breakfast, a community kitchen and their lovely heated pool. Best of all, you're just blocks (if that) from the nearest tasting room and the beach! A fun and funky option for solo travelers or large group celebrations.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: The Wayfarer has both private rooms and super affordable, dorm-style shared rooms that sleep 4-5 people. Perfect for solo travelers or groups!

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Maybe you're not the type of person that is typically impressed by a Motel 6. Well, that's fine, but this one, this particular Motel 6, deserves a little extra notice. Why? Well because it's actually the original Motel 6, opened in 1962. That's right, the very first one! (Rooms were $6 a night, hence the name.) And, besides that little tidbit, it's truly lovely. There are granite countertops in the bathrooms, LCD TVs in every room and, oh, a little thing we like to call an ocean view from the sun deck. Rooms have recently been redesigned for a more modern feel. Your best bet for a budget stay at the beach!

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: This is the very first Motel 6... ever! Rooms are not longer $6 a night, but they are affordable, and there's an ocean view.

Read more about Motel 6 Santa Barbara - Beach →

Located on upper State Street, just a short walk away from midtown shops, bars, restaurants and the Santa Barbara Municipal Golf Course, the Agave Inn has everything you need without the unnecessary frills. The Agave Inn provides free parking, free continental breakfast and free wireless internet for every guest. All 13 rooms boast flat screen TVs, iPod docs, microwaves, refrigerators, heaters and air conditioners. A few even feature full kitchens. The decor combines Mexican pop styling with clean modern lines - just the thing to make you feel right at home in beautiful Santa Barbara. Free off-street parking for guests.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: Enjoy affordable, midcentury modern digs with a Mexican vibe in the San Roque neighborhood of Santa Barbara.

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Meet Geneva Ives

Geneva Ives moved to Santa Barbara in 2000 on a whim (ok, and to go to college) and never looked back. She loves Santa Barbara because it’s really one of America’s greatest small towns - it...  More About Geneva